Education Minister Kay McConney wants to move this country’s public schools from hybrid learning environments into full face-to-face instruction at the earliest opportunity.
However, she has maintained that such a move would be contingent on the advice of public health officials.
It is a view shared by the president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Rudy Lovell, who said that with the relaxation of this country’s COVID-19 protocols, authorities should consider allowing more schools to facilitate their full complement of students back in the classrooms.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Minister McConney said there was no doubt that full face-to-face instruction remained the preferred mode of instruction.
“The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, we have worked hand-in-hand in this effort from the beginning until now and we intend to work lock step with the Ministry of Health. Whether or not protocols are relaxed enough for us to be able to accommodate all students, is a conversation that must occur between both ministries and it would be the Ministry of Health that would take the lead in a health situation such as this,” declared McConney.
The minister reiterated that the pandemic years have been fraught with learning losses for students due to various factors including the effectiveness of online learning and various
“We know that face-to-face learning tends to be very effective and we know that by doing so, we will be able to meet the needs of many and hopefully all of those whom we serve and therefore my comment is a simple comment,” said the minister.
“Whatever will be in the best interest of the students and at this point in time in terms of having a better quality education, better quality instruction and better outcomes, that is where we are focused.
“If face-to-face school, as I am being told, is the best option, then certainly, we have to keep working step-by-step to move back towards that to the extent possible,” she added.
Earlier this month, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) raised questions about the full return of face-to-face classes at the Blackman and Gollop Primary School. Since then, Barbados TODAY was informed that other primary schools had been authorized to welcome their full roll back into the classrooms for all classes.
In a separate interview, the BUT president reiterated that his members, who make up the majority of teachers at the Blackman and Gollop Primary, had raised “no significant concern” about the change of protocol.
Lovell added that with the blessing of the relevant government ministries, each school should be free to make decisions based on the feasibility of facilitating physical distancing and other key protocols.
“I am at a position where I believe that if teachers, principals, the parents and the ministry can agree that a school has enough space to facilitate the re-entry of a cohort of students, we will support that, once our members agree,” declared Lovell.
“I think that is essentially what everybody wants. Everyone wants to return to a face-to-face environment. If that can be achieved, it would be optimal, but unfortunately, the spacing restrictions at some schools do not lend to that. But where possible and it can be done, once the teachers and the principals can agree, along with the Ministry of Education, we are supportive of face-to-face classes,” the BUT president added.